Uche Usim, Abuja
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has urged the Senate to help mount pressure on obligors to pay up an outstanding N5 trillion debt currently choking it.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer AMCON, Mr Ahmed Lawan Kuru, renewed the call for legislative support to his agency at the weekend when he led the management before a technical session of the Senate Committee on Banking Insurance and other Financial Institutions in Abuja.
The committee met to review the impact of COVID-19 on AMCON policies and processes, with a view to repositioning AMCON for optimal performance amidst the pandemic.
Kuru said: ‘We want the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pile pressure on some of our obligors through the Senate Committee on Banking Insurance and Other Financial Institutions under the leadership of Senator Uba Sani as Chairman.
‘Some of these obligors are very important members of the society and, as distinguished senators, I know they have all it takes to intervene and even compel AMCON obligors to meet their obligation. This is because we cannot over emphasise the importance of recovering the huge outstanding and the positive impact it will have in the Nigerian economy, which like other economies have been further challenged by the outbreak of the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.’
Kuru noted that although the Corporation has, with the aid of the National Assembly sought to address some of these challenges in the 2019 Amendment Act, the Senate needs to do more to support AMCON recovery as some of the top obligors of AMCON still hide under legal technicalities to tie AMCON in courts, exploring the loopholes in the Act prior amendment, which is why the Corporation has witnessed slow judicial process including undue adjournment, lack of hearing date and adequate understanding of AMCON Act among other issues.
But in spite of all the challenges and frustrations, which have been heightened by the ravaging pandemic, Kuru told the Senate committee that the Corporation was not deterred because as at August 2020, AMCON’s assets under management (AUM) amounted to about N136.73 billion, while the agency has about N112.03bn worth of property assets.
The AMCON CEO added, ‘COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has had a monumental impact on the globe and Nigeria in particular. Not only has it adversely affected the global economy, but the entire health system of the world has remained on its knees. AMCON, one of the institutions of government saddled with the responsibility of revitalising Nigeria’s economy is not immune to this monumental global disaster. The pandemic has impacted negatively on the various sectors of our economy, particularly the sectors, which AMCON is substantially exposed to, like Aviation, Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, and Retail sectors.
‘The continuous rise in inflation and Naira depreciation has also affected the purchasing power of the public thereby affecting obligor’s capacity to repay. Noting the untoward hardship caused by COVID-19 pandemic on most businesses and indeed the economy at large, the Corporation has begun consideration of granting moratorium to deserving obligors that had hitherto shown commitment/seriousness towards resolving their indebtedness. On our day-to-day operations, the Corporation has taken several measures to withstand and curtail the spread of this pandemic.’
On his part, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Uba Sani, assured that committee and AMCON have identified the strategies being employed by debtors to stall the repayment of loans, including the dragging of court cases for many years. The Senator who represents Kaduna Central at the 9th Senate said: ‘The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria has remained at the receiving end of these well laid and orchestrated acts of economic sabotage.’
He said that the engagement with the management of AMCON has provided a window of opportunity for the committee to brainstorm on key issues and concerns in maintaining the continued stability of the financial sector, particularly the banking industry. He further explained that the meeting also addressed the continued reduction of high rate of Non-performing Loans (NPLs) as well the challenges of AMCON, notably policies and procedures, implementation strategies and assets recovery in the heat of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, AMCON expressed delight at the passage by the Senate of the Bill for an Act to Repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act and to Re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act and Other Matters Connected Therewith, 2020. It strongly believes that the provision for a Loan/Credit Tribunal will assist AMCON in its loan recovery efforts.” He assured that the 9th Senate would strongly consider all recommendations, which if strengthened, will further enhance the efforts of AMCON, thereby propelling the nation’s economic revitalisation.